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Brian Martin (social scientist)

Brian Martin
EducationRice University, (BA in Physics); University of Sydney (PhD)
OccupationSocial scientist at University of Wollongong (social study of dissent, peace studies); formerly mathematician at Australian National University
Years active1973–present
EmployerUniversity of Wollongong

Brian Martin (born 1947) is a social scientist in the School of Humanities and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Law, Humanities and the Arts, at the University of Wollongong in NSW, Australia.[1] He was appointed a Professor at the University in 2007, and in 2017 was appointed Emeritus Professor.[2] His work is in the fields of peace research, science and technology studies, sociology, political science, media studies, law, journalism and education,[2] as well as research on whistleblowing and dissent in the context of science.[3][4] Martin was president of Whistleblowers Australia from 1996 to 1999 and remains their International Director.[5]

Martin has spoken at a British Science Association Festival of Science,[6] and testified at the Australian Federal Senate's Inquiry into Academic Freedom.[3][7] The crustacean Polycheles martini was named after him.[8]


Martin's original academic field was theoretical physics, and he worked in both stratospheric modelling and numerical methods during his career. He has published extensively about the social dynamics and politicisation of controversial scientific topics. His topics of inquiry have included the globalization of polarised science such as the origin of HIV/AIDS.[9] He argues that there are situations in which scientific research that threatens vested interests can be suppressed. He identifies a number of direct and indirect mechanisms through which this can occur, ranging from the denial of funds and the denial of promotion and tenure, through to the creation of a "general climate of fear".[10] Martin's work on in this area has provided what Delborne describes as a "key foundation for conceptualizing scientific dissent".[4]

Martin has been criticised for supporting the incorrect proposal that oral polio vaccine caused AIDS.[9][11][12] The hypothesis was first popularised in Rolling Stone magazine by way of journalist Curtis and AIDS activist Elswood in 1992, and was later further promoted by the journalist/writer Hooper and Martin,[9][13] with Hooper crediting Martin for giving the OPV-AIDS link hypothesis "further publicity and credibility".[14] Martin disputes the claim that he has been a supporter of the hypothesis, instead saying that he has "never argued in favour of the OPV theory", but has instead stated "that it was and remains worthy of consideration yet in many ways has been unfairly dismissed".[15] A 2016 article in The Australian described Martin's 2010 paper as claiming "that medical researchers had colluded to silence the theory that the AIDS virus was caused by contaminated polio vaccines in 1950s Africa."[16]

Martin has been active in the criticism of university systems. He has criticized conflicts of interest where universities are managing internal investigations that may lead to bad publicity, and recommends having independent groups investigate allegations of misconduct;[17] he has written about the unauthorised use of research produced by students and junior researchers by senior academics;[18] and he has been outspoken against sexual relationships between staff and students.[19][20] He also reports that any bias within universities could simply be due to students strategically working in-line with the biases of their teachers.[3]

Martin believes that if complainants go through the official channels the outcome is very predictable, in that organisation's internal grievance procedures or making a complaint to the relevant ombudsman doesn't work.[6] He also believes whistleblower laws also don't work, saying; "Not only are whistleblower laws flawed through exemptions and in-built weaknesses but in their implementation they are rarely helpful".[21]


Martin has been criticised for his role in the Judith Wilyman PhD controversy[22] where medical academics and the AMA raised concerns of whether Professor Martin had the necessary knowledge[23] to assess vaccine science.[16] In his blog David Gorski has criticised Martin, saying that Martin is not distinguishing between dissent based on facts, science and logic as opposed to dissent based on pseudoscience and misinformation,[24] and The Australian has criticised him as not recognising academic rigour over academic freedom.[23]

In 2014, Martin published a paper characterizing criticism of Andrew Wakefield's discredited claims about vaccines and autism as "suppression of vaccination dissent".[25] In 2016 an unedited source said that Martin "also defends the idea of a vaccine-autism link."[26] However, Martin disputes this, saying: "I have never defended this idea."[27]

In 2016 the Australian Skeptics criticised Martin's supervision of Wilyman by presenting Martin, Wilyman and the Social Sciences Department of the University of Wollongong the satirical Bent Spoon Award for awarding "a PhD thesis riddled with errors, misstatements, poor and unsupported 'evidence' and conspiratorial thinking".[28][29]



  • The deceptive activist (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2017).
  • Ruling tactics: methods of promoting everyday nationalism, how they serve rulers and how to oppose them (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2017).
  • Nonviolence Unbound (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2015).
  • The Controversy Manual (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2014).
  • Doing Good Things Better (Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing, 2013)
  • Justice Ignited: The Dynamics of Backfire, (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007).
  • (with Wendy Varney). Nonviolence Speaks: Communicating against Repression, (Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2003).
  • Nonviolence versus capitalism (London: War Resisters' International, 2001).
  • Technology for Nonviolent Struggle, (London: War Resisters' International, 2001).
  • (with Lyn Carson). Random Selection in Politics, (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999).
  • The Whistleblower's Handbook: How to Be an Effective Resister, (Charlbury, UK: Jon Carpenter; Sydney: Envirobook, 1999). Updated and republished 2013 as Whistleblowing: a practical guide, Sparsnäs, Sweden: Irene Publishing)
  • Information Liberation, (London: Freedom Press, 1998).
  • Tied Knowledge: Power in Higher Education (self-published)
  • Suppression Stories, (Wollongong: Fund for Intellectual Dissent, 1997).
  • Social Defence, Social Change (London: Freedom Press, 1993)
  • Scientific Knowledge in Controversy: The Social Dynamics of the Fluoridation Debate (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991)
  • Uprooting war (London: Freedom Press, 1984).
  • The Bias of Science (Society for Social Responsibility in Science, 1979)[30] ISBN 0-909509-13-1

Journal articles in the physical sciences

His most cited papers are:

Other journal articles (selection)


  1. ^ "Academic Staff #M, School of Humanities & Social Inquiry". University of Wollongong. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
  2. ^ a b Raper, Judy (1 November 2017). "Emeritus Professor Brian Martin".
  3. ^ a b c Devine, Miranda (4 December 2008). "Monoculture is killing thought". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  4. ^ a b Delborne, Jason A. (2008). "Transgenes and Transgressions: Scientific Dissent as Heterogeneous Practice", Social Studies of Science, 38:4.
  5. ^ Barclay, Paul (10 May 2004). "Perspective: Whistleblowers and Iraq". ABC Radio. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  6. ^ a b Murcott, Toby (11 September 2000). "Science needs its whistleblowers". BBC News. Retrieved 29 January 2010.
  7. ^ APH (9 October 2008). "Inquiry into Academic Freedom". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  8. ^ Ahyong, S.; Brown, D.E. (2002). "New Species and New Records of Polychelidae from Australia (Crustacea Decapoda)" (PDF). The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology. 50 (1): 53–79. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2017.
  9. ^ a b c Jenkins, Stephen H. (2015). Tools for Critical Thinking in Biology. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 217–219. ISBN 978-0-19-998104-5. text= "Although Hooper and Martin are still promoting the tainted polio vaccine hypothesis, recent genetic work has convincingly disproven it... Worobey's team published their genetic comparison of HIV samples in 2008, but Brian Martin continued to promote the tainted polio vaccine hypothesis for the origin of AIDS as late as 2010 in a paper called "How to Attack a Scientific Theory and Get Away with It (Usually)..." p 218.
  10. ^ Hess, David J. (1997). Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction, NYU Press (U.S.A.). ISBN 9780814735640. p152.
  11. ^ . (21 January 2016). "Debunked: The Polio Vaccine and HIV Link". College of Physicians of Philadelphia - Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  12. ^ Hammar, Lawrence (1 April 2004). "Dephlogistication, Imperial Display, Apes, Angels, and the Return of Monsieur Emile Zola" (PDF). Papua New Guinea Medical Journal. 47 (1–2): 120, 124. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  13. ^ Curtis, Tom (19 March 1992). "The Origin of AIDS: A startling new theory attempts to answer the question, 'Was it an act of God or an act of man?". Rolling Stone magazine (626). pp. 54–9, 61, 106, 108.
  14. ^ Hooper, Edward (1999). The River: A Journey Back to the Source of HIV and AIDS. (U.S.A.): Little Brown and Company. p. 797. ISBN 0-316-37261-7.
  15. ^ Martin, Brian. (16 May 2016). "Critical thinking about the origin of AIDS: Comments on Stephen Jenkins’ account". Retrieved 26 August 2016.
  16. ^ a b Loussikian, Kylar (16 January 2016). "Anti-vaccination activists spruik PhD thesis as proof of conspiracy". The Australian. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  17. ^ Colvin, Mark (17 April 2014). "PM: Investigations mounting into research at University of New South Wales". ABC Radio. Retrieved 29 January 2016.
  18. ^ Matthews, David. (22 October 2015). "Papers retracted after authors used unauthorised data from junior researchers", Times Higher Education, London. Retrieved 11 March 2016.
  19. ^ Harvey, Sarah. (14 February 2010). "Staff-student review may have wider impact", The Sunday Star-Times, New Zealand. pA005.
  20. ^ Powell, Stan. (29 May 1993). "Uni Staff Attacked for having Sex with Students", The Sydney Morning Herald, p11.
  21. ^ Pickard, Gabrielle (25 December 2014). "Who Does The Whistleblower Protection Act Really Protect?". Top Secret Writers. (U.S.A.). Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  22. ^ Morton, Rick (28 January 2014). "University paid for anti-vaccine student to attend conference". The Australian. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
  23. ^ a b . (2 February 2016). "When fulltime isn't quite that, and Queensland's VET goes to Kerala". The Australian. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
  24. ^ Gorski, David (14 January 2016). "Brian Martin and Judy Wilyman: Promoting antivaccine pseudoscience as "dissent"". Science Blogs. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  25. ^ Martin, Brian (2015). "On the Suppression of Vaccination Dissent". Science and Engineering Ethics. 21 (1): 143–157. doi:10.1007/s11948-014-9530-3. Published online: 23 March 2014.
  26. ^ Lapointe, Pascal (15 January 2016). "L'anti-vaccination à l'université". Agence Science Presse. Quebec, CA. Retrieved 17 March 2016. translation= "The professor she chose as supervisor, Brian Martin, is known for his belief in a conspiracy to silence and hide the study that the AIDS virus was caused by the polio vaccine. And he also defends the idea of a vaccine-autism link."
  27. ^ Martin, Brian (2018). "Persistent Bias on Wikipedia: Methods and Responses". Social Science Computer Review. 36 (3): 379–388. doi:10.1177/0894439317715434.
  28. ^ "2016 Skeptics awards – Spoon to Wilyman, Skeptic of the Year to Harvey and Vickers". Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  29. ^ "Skeptics name winners of Bent Spoon award". Archived from the original on 29 November 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  30. ^ The Bias of Science. Google. 1979. ISBN 9780909509132. Retrieved 28 January 2010.

External links